KANSAS CITY, Mo. – UMKC Athletics is excited to open a new era for its Softball program as the Roos will begin play at Kansas City Royals newly unveiled Urban Youth Academy. Located at 18th and Vine, the Urban Youth Academy is a state of the art baseball and softball facility which will serve the community and function as the official home of UMKC Softball.
Beginning in 2015, Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals began efforts to give back to the KC community with their desire to develop and educate our youth in sport and life. Three years later, their dream has become reality as the ribbon was cut today to open the Urban Youth Academy.
The UMKC softball team (10-22) hosts New Mexico State this weekend to open Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play for the 2018 season. The three-game set will serve as part of several activities and events taking place in the grand opening of the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.
Urban Youth Academy
The purpose of the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy is to provide our communities inner city youth with a dual opportunity: to develop into high character, productive members of society and at the same time learn the skills of baseball and softball.
“UMKC Athletics is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with Kansas City Urban Youth Academy to host our home softball games on the Women of the Negro Leagues Softball Field within the complex,” commented director of athletics Carla Wilson. “We could not ask for a better setting for our student-athletes to practice, train and compete. Beyond the athletic experience for our student-athletes, opportunity to participate in youth clinics, mentor programs and career development allow us to both give to, and gain from, these life experiences that we will share together with the youth of Kansas City.”
“This is no doubt the most exciting day in my 12 years at UMKC,” says head coach Meredith Smith Neal. “We have been blessed to have started working with the UYA development group including Kyle Vena more than two years ago, and to now stand at the ribbon cutting of this amazing facility is humbling. I am proud to call Kansas City my home, UMKC my university, and this team of young women and amazing staff my extended family. Thank you Urban Youth Academy and I look forward to our life-long relationship.”
Urban Youth Academy Grand Opening
Fans and members of the community are encouraged to celebrate the official grand opening of the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy. The Grand Opening Community Day of Play and Open House is Saturday, Mar. 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT. Highlights of Saturday’s event include WAC softball doubleheader between UMKC and New Mexico State, youth baseball and softball instructional stations, appearances by Sluggerrr, Kasey and the Easter Bunny, face painting, balloon twisting, caricature artists and more.
UMKC vs. New Mexico State
Location: Kansas City, Mo. (Urban Youth Academy, 1622 E 17th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64108)
Series: UMKC trails 17-1
Last Meeting: Apr. 15, 2017 (11-3 NMSU)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Live In-Game Update: @umkcsb
UMKC heads into the weekend after posting a strong 3-1 result in Baltimore, Md., during the team’s spring break trip. After dropping a narrow one-run extra inning loss to Morgan State, the team rattled off three consecutive wins including a 12-3 demolition of host UMBC.
Junior infielder Morgan Byrn (Lawrence, Kan.) hits the WAC opener with a full head of steam after posting terrific results in the most recent road trip. Currently riding a four-game hit streak and having hit safely in seven of the past eight games, Byrn has driven in 12 runs over the four games played this week, eight of which came by way of her second and third career grand slams. After a somewhat cold start at the plate, Byrn is hitting .400 (8 for 20) in her last seven games including three home runs and 14 RBI’s.
Newcomer Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) continues to hold steady as a fixture in the middle of the UMKC lineup and has given the team a major power threat in her first season in the program. With a home run and three RBI’s thus far in the week, Fluehr leads the team in both categories with seven deep flies and 27 runs driven in on the season. Both figures also rank among the top-five in the conference.
Fluehr has also been a major contributor for the Roos in the circle, an area that improved greatly following the weekend sweep suffered to South Dakota State. In her past four appearances, she has compiled a 3.07 era over 13.2 innings of work that resulted in two wins and a save. Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) joins her rotation mate in finding success in recent outings. The senior is 1-1 in her last three starts, the most recent of which saw her allow just three earned runs over 6.1 innings of work in the win against Mount St. Mary’s.
Freshman outfielder Kamrie Harrison (Moore, Okla.) has seen her playing time increase substantially of late and she has certainly made the most of the opportunity. Harrison has started in the team’s last four games, hitting .500 (5 for 10) with a triple and two stolen bases in the stretch.
Scouting the Aggies
New Mexico State (15-14) matches up with UMKC having only played three games over the past two weeks. The Aggies were able to secure victories in all three contests, including a pair of wins against UTEP and a 12-7 road triumph over New Mexico.
The team comes into the series with the second-highest team batting average (.300) in the WAC and has recently been extremely potent, scoring eight or more runs in their past three contests. Senior infielder Rachel Rodriguez has been an extremely tough out in the Aggies lineup, ranking fifth in the conference with a .388 average on the season. Cooling off Rodriguez will be no easy task for the UMKC pitchers as she is in the midst of a torrid stretch, hitting .632 (12 for 19) in the past five games.
Junior Kelsey Horton is another hitter that the Roos pitching staff need to approach carefully. Horton ranks second in the WAC with 11 home runs on the season and sits fourth in the conference with 32 runs driven in. The Aggies also boast two more players – Nikki Butler and Victoria Castro – with six home runs on the season.
The New Mexico State pitching arsenal is headlined by junior Kayla Green, who leads the team in wins (8), innings pitched (72.1), era (3.58) and opponent batting average (.284). The staff has been aided by superb defense, registering a league-lowest 38 errors thus far on the year.
The Roos will take a trip west to for a three-game conference road set against Seattle U on Apr. 6-7. The series includes a Friday night doubleheader, beginning at 6 p.m. CT, and will conclude with a Saturday contest set to start at 4 p.m. CT.
– UMKC –